In Italy, it was considered the ‘unofficial sequel’ to DAWN OF THE DEAD. In England, it was known as ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS and banned as obscene. In America, it was called ZOMBIE and advertised with the depraved tag line “WE ARE GOING TO EAT YOU!” Tisa Farrow (THE GRIM REAPER), Ian McCulloch (CONTAMINATION), Al Cliver (CANNIBALS), and Richard Johnson (THE HAUNTING) star in this worldwide splatter sensation directed by ‘Maestro Of Gore’ Lucio Fulci (CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY) that remains one of the most eye-skewering, skin-ripping, gore-gushingly graphic horror hits of all time!
Blue Underground is proud to present ZOMBIE in a new 2K High Definition transfer from the original uncut and uncensored camera negative. Each flesh-eating frame has been lovingly restored to skull-rotting perfection under the supervision of Cinematographer Sergio Salvati (THE BEYOND). Now fully-loaded with hours of brand new Extras, this is the Ultimate Edition of ZOMBIE!
It's called a number of names across the world; some fun, some serious. It's main title ties in to a film from another country, so as to bank off its success. It's been banned outright and received heavy censorship, creating a number of alternate cuts. It spawned a number of sequels, and has inspired a number of pop culture references, including some credit as the inspiration for the new video game Dead Island. It's considered a pivotal work in director Lucio Fulci's filmography, and a staple in the zombie horror sub-genre.
It's hard to not consider a film like 'Zombie' (aka 'Zombi 2,' aka 'Zombie Flesh Eaters,' aka 'Woodoo,' aka a handful of other names) a classic. Sure, it capitalized on the success of George Romero's 'Dawn of the Dead' (aka 'Zombi'), with the opening and closing made to tie-in to the film. So what if it may be a slight knock-off? Considering how severely Romero would destroy his own series in later years, it's nice to have a film that can be considered a supplement to his original works, with fun practical makeup effects, lots of gushing blood, a sinister atmosphere, and a general sense of dread free from silly subplots and theories. Even funnier still, this film is as "basic" as films in the genre come, with its scenario and number of familiar scenes, yet it's as out there as any Fulci film, including one of the most utterly insane zombie confrontations in film history.
Before Romero wanted to go to the secluded off shore in 'Day of the Dead' (a theme he wouldn't do until 'Survival of the Dead,' his latest), the undead populated a small land mass in the Virgin Islands, Matool. After an abandoned yacht is discovered in the New York Harbor, and a flesh eater attacks and kills a cop, Anne (Tisa Farrow), the daughter of the boat's owner decides to hunt her father down, especially after discovering a note from him stating he contracted a strange disease. Alongside a reporter (Ian McCulloch) and eventually a couple on vacation (Pier Luigi Conti and Auretta Gay), Anne investigates the strange island, believed to be cursed, where the dead don't stay dead. Along with the resident doctor (Richard Johnson), the strangers soon find themselves under attack by a horde of the living dead, including the reanimated corpses of conquistadors from hundreds of years before. Now, rather than seeking out the truth, Anne will fight to survive the deadly island and its nasty secret.
'Zombie' isn't the best zombie film out there. It has its issues, with pace early, with some silly acting and flaws in logic, but it makes up for its shortcomings with its mixture of familiarity and sheer unpredictability. The zombies in this film look absolutely great, especially compared to the blue tinted nasties in Romero's features, with caked on decay making for a real creepy vibe. Of course, the dirt, blood, and more than likely shit covered clothing most certainly helps, while the worms crawling out of their bodies makes for an instant win, in terms of shock value. Their bites are amazingly deep, which is a little offputting, but the gushes of blood and chunks of missing flesh really do work wonders, their effects work really selling each and every moment. There's no need for rules, no survivors calling out to "aim for the head," as the shock of trying to survive is all we see, their actions as primal as they come.
Unlike Romero's films, there really isn't a major undercurrent to this story, as one has to really read into things past the point of probability to get a second meaning out of the story. This isn't a statement on consumerism, or racism, or even inter-personal relationships. This is about blood, guts, and gore, and as such, we're treated to a number of memorable sequences, both of zombies killing humans and vice-versa. Being that this is a Fulci film, the trademark eyeball gag is there, and it's an uncomfortable masterpiece, a lingering slow descent into pain that we all can imagine, the effects work really selling the sheer horror of it. But there's more, as the chunks that fly out of body bags that are shot in the head to prevent resurrections are pretty damn icky, even for someone who revels in gore as much as I do.
There's also plenty of exploitation in the film, enough to keep viewers on the edge of their seat. First, nudity, and more than enough of it. Second, nude struggles against zombies, hard to miss with that. Third, zombies fighting sharks. I repeat, fucking zombies battling fucking sharks. It's...it's wonderful. With the undead not needing oxygen, seeing a random zombie that got in the water (or originally died there), decomposing, trying to kill anything in its path for lunch, it's really sinister. You believe it. You know it's unnatural, seeing a human wearing diving gear, battling some decaying lurch that isn't breathing, and it's genuinely scary. When said creature then turns its attention to an unlucky shark, what happens is among the most awesome pairings in film history.
'Zombie' is a proper mix of sex appeal, violence, and dread. It's a slow burning, sinister little film that pulls you in to the story, making you forget the prologue, as the events on the island are beyond tense. The mythology, the culture, it's nice, considering how stupid some of the explanations for the rise of the dead have been in other films. The finale is one of the best "last stands," aside from the cop out molotov cocktails that intentionally are far away due to the lack of viable stunt work, as there's a gathering army of the dead outside, plenty of windows to cover, a door that's doomed to give, and some recently deceased inside that haven't been properly disposed of to prevent reanimation. It's a real nail biter if ever there were one. Zombie films don't have to be art, but they have to be interesting, and there's not much not to like about 'Zombie.' Complain about the opening act, but it does set the entire film in motion, slow as it may be. Another fine piece of violent cinema from Fulci, that definitely has to be seen to be believed.
The Disc: Vital Stats
Blue Underground's release of 'Zombie' is a two disc (one BD50, one BD25) set, with a load of special features. This Region A/B/C set has traditional menu setup, no annoying pre-menu junk, and a slipcover, which may be a first for this distributor.
'Zombie' arrives on Blu-ray in 1080p, using the AVC MPEG-4 encoder and the native 2.35:1 aspect ratio, with a new 2K master from the original uncut/uncensored camera negative. The end result? About par for the course, for Blue Underground, and for what you'd expect a film from the era to look like.
On the bright side, the picture is really clean. There's a minor scratch here and there, a couple tiny bits of dirt or debris, but for the most part, this one is damn solid. There's a little noise here and there, and a lot of grain and detail fluctuation, with no apparent rhyme or reason. Sharp, flat, no grain, lots of grain, it's really unpredictable, shot to shot. The random close up shot in the film looks amazing, with tons of facial features visible, but regular distance shots don't really show much in that regard. Skin tones look damn natural, except for the sunburns, which look a little too florescent.
The random odd issue here is forgivable, for the most part. The sometimes hot contrast creating a little bleeding is hardly an issue, while the black levels exhibiting a little bit of grey here and there wasn't a major issue. There is some difficulty discerning detail in some of the night shots, which is a little more bothersome, while the random exaggerated edge drew the eye on a few occasions. There are some moments where grain looks a little tampered with, as well, with a few little smears and what looks like a light freeze in a few spots, but it wasn't as distracting as the edges.
Fulci's 'Zombie' looks very good on Blu-ray, all things considered. Fans are sure to be very pleased with the look of it!
The audio selection is one of the coolest parts of most Blue Underground discs, as they give you a wide assortment of tracks. For 'Zombie,' viewers have six listening options, not even counting the audio commentary, with the English and Italian versions each getting DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, and Dolby Digital Mono tracks. Is it overkill? Not really. Is one side better than the other? Based off some quick back and forth, I really don't think so. Just pick the language you like and run with it. Considering how films of this nature were made, with cast members not all speaking the same language, it's all a crapshoot anyways, with odd voices and obvious sync impossibilities.
While the default English track is 7.1, it's hardly all that immersive, as is the case with many older films given such remixes. The only real inhabitants of the rear channels are the score and some very light, sporadic ambience, so don't expect to be wrapped up and pampered. This track does have some nice separation, the occasional good pop in gunfire, and solid distinction between noises, with fairly good prioritization. That said, screams are muffled and don't sound clear whatsoever, while the high end in the score can, at times, get a little screechy and cancel out some dialogue.
I never go into films like this expecting a miracle. As such, I'm pretty happy with what's here.
Hoo-boy, there's a ton of goodies here! All the extras up to the poster gallery are on the first disc, while all the extras from "Zombie Wasteland" on are on the second disc.
'Zombie' is a great, fun film, full of memorable characters, creatures, kills, scenes, music, and ideas. It's not your ordinary run of the mill foreign zombie film, either, and is very coherent and incredibly tense. If you're a newcomer to the zombie sub-genre and haven't seen this, now is the time. Correct the blasphemy. Blue Underground's two disc release is loaded with extras, and features a solid presentation. This set comes easily recommended. It's a bargain at twice the price.